10K in 4 Hours?

At my best, when I took this challenge, I reached the 10K easily. The first two or three times I did it, I wrote a little over 12K in the four hours I had been assigned.

This Saturday, I devoted four hours as fully to writing as I was able–and I wrote 8.9K. I’d already been feeling slow this year, but this challenge really brought it home for me. I just can’t keep the pace I used to.

So what changed? It’s not that I became a slower writer. I still type just as quickly as I did then. My story is falling from my fingertips as easily as any novel ever has–maybe even more easily at times.

What changed is not my typing speed or my level of inspiration. It was the condition of my wrists. I’ve struggled with tendonitis in my wrists for several years, but this year the amount of pain peaked after March break, when I spent a week in so much pain that I could barely lift a small bottle of Dr. Pepper. In June I could barely write a page by hand without tears forming in my eyes from the pain.

I spent August with my left wrist–where the pain is worst–in a splint all the time, and I have been splinting when I sleep ever since. While the pain is certainly not as severe as it was in June, some nights it takes all my energy just to write a thousand words, and I find myself having to take more breaks. Once upon a time I could easily write for four hours straight, my only breaks being when I got up to refill my glass. Now I find myself having to take several breaks in those four hours, even after taking painkillers.

What does this mean? It means that I’ll probably never be able to write 300, 000 words in a month again. It means that until my wrists recover–and I don’t think they’ll ever fully heal–I’ll be extremely limited in how much I can write on any given day, and some days I will not be able to write at all. It means that when I’ve worked myself too hard, I’ll know because of the blinding pain in my wrists. It means that some days I’ll have to be careful how I open doors, because if I do it wrong I’ll hurt myself.

And why am I telling you all of this? There are a few reasons. One is to show you why it’s important to take care of yourself. If you start doing regular wrist stretches and invest in a heating pad and a cold compress for when you overwork your wrist muscles before you have tendonitis or carpal tunnel, you’ll stop yourself from developing these issues. And if you do have tendonitis or carpal tunnel, remember to care for yourself so it doesn’t get worse.

The other important reason why I’m telling you this–other than that it’s good fodder for blog posts–is because my failure to hit 10K in four hours means I will be trying this challenge again this Saturday. This Saturday from 2-6PM, I will be trying again to write 10K in four hours. I’m determined to stay focused this time and more determined to prove that I have not been completely conquered by tendonitis.

Of course, since I’m doing the challenge again this weekend, you’re all welcome to try with me. Pick your own hours or write with me in spirit, it’s up to you. If you participate, just leave your username and word count achieved in the comments on this post and you’ll be recognized on my blog.

On account of this being more difficult than I remember, I am changing up the list a little bit. It will now be two lists: one list of those who succeeded, and another list for all those who tried. Just like when you attempt Nanowrimo, failing to meet the official goal doesn’t make you a loser–in fact, you’re a winner just for being brave enough to try. So I’ve decided that everyone brave enough to attempt writing 10K in four hours will get a place of honour on my blog. I’m also hoping this will encourage more people to try, because it’s always more fun with a bigger group.

So, do you think you can write 10K in four hours?

6 thoughts on “10K in 4 Hours?

  • wynwords

    Have you switched to an ergonomic keyboard yet? That and the flexible typing supports have helped me tremendously ( severe tendonitis since college). My supports look like black cuffs, but they work really well for when you don’t need a full brace but are in need of something

    • Hi Wynwords,

      Right now I work from a laptop, and using a separate keyboard would only work at home, and then only when I feel like writing at the desk. I find myself totally incapable of giving up writing in bed, and I don’t have an income so it’ll be a while before I try an ergonomic keyboard. For the same reasons I am lacking in flexible wrist supports.

      There are a few different things I do to keep the pain away, but for now, I won’t be able to try anything that requires equipment I don’t have.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  • Great job! 8.9K in four hours is awesome! I feel your pain as my tendonitis is kicking in the past few days as a result of NaNo. In answer to your question, I don’t think I could write 10K words in 4 hours, but if I were on a roll with a particular scene, who knows! That’s what is so great about writing, you never know what will happen.

    • Hi Jill,

      Thank you! I hope you’ll find ways to keep the tendonitis at bay and stop the pain from getting worse.

      And you’re right–you never do know what will happen when you’re writing. It’s amazing how quickly you write when you get on a roll. Of course, I think the number of years I’ve spent doing Nanowrimo have helped–I’ve trained myself to be a fast typist and to extend one scene horrifically if I don’t know what scene is coming next. These strategies don’t make for a very coherent manuscript, but they allow me to hit my word goals.

      Thanks for stopping by,

  • That is absolute hell for a writer. Take it easy! And no, I could never write 10, 000 words in four hours. Even if my fingers could do it, my brain would never keep up!

    • Hi Stacey,

      It is hell, and I’m taking it easy–by my definition. The thing is I expect a lot more from myself than other people think is reasonable, even though it’s based on my prior experiences and success. The other thing is I’m not really at a time in my life where I’m capable of ‘taking it easy’… I can only take it ‘easier’, but I promise I will.

      Also, maybe I’m the weird one, but it’s usually my fingers trying to keep pace with my brain, not the other way around.

      Thanks for stopping by,

Comments are closed.